News Capsule: Final round of polling for DDC Polls, New farm laws have not come overnight, says PM + More Top News


Final phase of DDC polls in J&K on Saturday voting to be held in 28 constituencies

News Capsule: 57 % voter turnout in DDC polls, Pankaj Mithal new CJ of J&K + More Top News

Srinagar: The staggered voting for the maiden District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir will conclude on Saturday as 28 constituencies are set to go for polling in the eighth and final phase.

Voting will also be held for 369 vacant panch and sarpanch seats on Saturday across Jammu and Kashmir, state election commissioner K K Sharma told reporters here on Friday.

“A total of 28 DDC constituencies will go to polls including 13 seats from Kashmir division and 15 from Jammu division, with 168 candidates contesting the last leg of the elections,” Sharma said.

Giving details, he said against the 13 DDC constituencies of the Kashmir division going to the polls on Saturday, there are 83 candidates in fray, including 31 women.

In the Jammu division, there are 85 candidates, including 15 women, in fray for the 15 DDC constituencies in this phase, he added.

“Over 6.30 lakh electors including 3,03,275 female voters are going to elect their representatives in the 28 DDC constituencies,” Sharma said.

There are 1,703 polling stations 1,028 in Kashmir division and 6,75 in Jammu division — where voting will take place on Saturday. Sharma said of the sarpanch vacancies notified in the eighth phase, 43 have been elected unopposed. There shall be a contest in 84 constituencies and 249 candidates, including 52 women, are in fray, he added.

Sharma said all the requisite arrangements for the final phase are in place, including manpower, election material and security arrangements, in all the poll-bound areas.

The eight-phased polling for DDC polls, which are being held for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir, began on November 28.

The first seven phases have witnessed high participation in the Jammu division and a few pockets in the Kashmir valley, with more than 50 per cent turnout recorded so far.

The counting of votes for all 280 DDC constituencies will be held on December 22.

Apni Party not B-team of, says its chief Bukhari

Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir’s Apni Party is often accused of being the B-team of the BJP but on the contrary it was the PDP and the NC which had allied with the saffron party in the past, its chief Altaf Bukhari said on Friday.

He said the party does not believe in dynastic politics.

He said the Apni party is against dynastic politics espoused by the Peoples democratic Party, which is dominated by the Sayeed family, the National Conference, which is dominated by the Abdullah family and the Indian National Congress, which is dominated by the Nehru Gandhi family.

“We are often accused by opponents of being the B-team of the BJP. But let me ask her (Mehbooba Mufti). When she was enjoying the chair of chief minister being in coalition with BJP, wasn’t she then the B-team of the saffron party,” Bukhari told PTI.

“Did the NC not ally with the BJP for a ministerial berth in the government. So, how is our party, which talks about protecting the rights of the people and blames the NC, the PDP and the Congress equally for the loss of our special status, a B-team of BJP?” Bukhari asked.

He was responding to J-K Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir and NC spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar who accused the Apni Party of being the B-team of the BJP.

Mir said the real motive of the Apni Party would be exposed soon.

“This party is an offshoot of the saffron party aimed at creating chaos and divisions in the political system of J-K. People would soon give a befitting reply to this new formation,” he said.

Dar said “They (Apni Party) want to fill the political vacuum of Kashmir with those who parrot what New Delhi wants them to. It is therefore safe to call this new formation as Delhi’s party and nothing else.”

Bukhari asserted that the people of J-K will support Apni Party and we will emerge victorious in the District Development Council (DDC) polls, saying the aim of his party was to do politics of truth.

“We’re not here to sell dreams and fantasies but will always be pragmatic, honest and fair in our approach. We have resolved to create a political platform where people are real stakeholders of the political process.

“Restoration of statehood, domicile rights on land jobs form our core agenda. We are a regional party with a national outlook,” Bukhari said.

He said, “The agenda is simple. We want to remove the miseries of people that they have been facing since August 5. We want restoration of statehood, rights on domicile and land. We want jobs, education institutions, economic activities, tourism, and business to have suffered, we want them to compensate”.

COVID-19: J&K reports 388

new cases, 7 more deaths

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir recorded 388 new COVID-19 cases and seven more fatalities on Friday, pushing the infection tally to 1,17,705 and the death toll to 1,833, officials said here.

Of the fresh cases, 225 are from Kashmir and 163 from Jammu division of the the union territory, they said.

The officials said Jammu recorded the highest number of 92 new cases, followed by Srinagar district with 82.

The number of active cases in the union territory dropped to 4,244 as 464 more patients recovered from the infection. The total number of recoveries now stands at 1,11,628, they said.

Of the fresh fatalities, four were from Jammu and three from Kashmir region.

LG launches eVIN rationalizing

vaccine flow across J&K 

JAMMU: Lieutenant Governor Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha launches Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN).

The initiative aims at rationalizing vaccine flow and distribution across J&K.

LG Sinha said “With the launch of e-VIN in J&K, a robust system has been institutionalized which consists of a mobile & web-based application for cold chain handlers embracing technology to effectively manage vaccine, logistics, & cold chain by building capacities of cold chain personnel.”

Standardizing of stock-keeping & distribution procedures would be done by use of simple mobile-based application with innovative useof technology &Cloud-based server for hosting data from allcold chain points empowering vaccine logistics manager through real-time stock visibility.

Kashmir Valley reels under

freezing night temperature

File Photo

Srinagar: Kashmir continued to reel under freezing night temperature on Friday even as there was a marginal increase in the minimum temperature in Srinagar city and Gulmarg tourist resort, the meteorological department said.

Srinagar – the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir – and the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir were the only places in the Valley where the night temperature improved Thursday night, it said.

According to MeT, all the other weather stations across the Valley registered a further decrease in the minimum temperature.

Srinagar recorded a low of minus 6.0 degrees Celsius, up from the previous night’s minus 6.4 degrees Celsius which was the coldest night of the season.

The mercury in Gulmarg settled at a low of minus 10.6 degrees Celsius, up from minus 11.0 degrees Celsius. The resort continued to be the coldest recorded place in the Union territory.

Pahalgam tourist resort in south Kashmir recorded a low of minus 9.2 degrees Celsius, MeT officials said.

They said Qazigund – the gateway town to the Valley – recorded the minimum temperature of minus 5.4 degrees Celsius, while Kupwara, in the north, registered a low of minus 6.3 degrees Celsius and Kokernag, in the south, minus 5.4 degrees Celsius.

The MeT office said while no major snowfall is expected till the end of this month in the UT, there is a possibility of light to moderate snowfall during December 21-22 at isolated places of Kashmir.

Civil services officers have an opportunity to

become the architect of new India: Jitendra Singh

New Delhi: Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Friday said that civil services officers have an opportunity to become the architect of new India.

Addressing the valedictory function of 95th foundation course at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) in Mussoorie, he said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for good governance is reflected in new initiatives such as Mission Karmayogi and Aarambh for civil services in the country.

“Singh said that officers have an opportunity to become the architect of New India, the foundation of which was laid down by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” according to a statement issued by the personnel ministry.

Noting that out of a total of 428 officer trainees in this foundation course, 136, or roughly 32 per cent, are women, the minister said the trend of women empowerment has gained momentum in the last six-seven years after the assumption of office by Prime Minister Modi.

He also underlined that the presence of a large number (245) of officers from engineering background will go a long way in good governance practices as this government had launched various specialised flagship schemes that need special expertise such as the Ayushman Bharat, Soil Health Card or the promotion of Inland Waterways.

Singh, the Minister of State for Personnel, said that in the last five to six years, a series of new beginnings and innovations were undertaken by the prime minister to provide a new orientation and direction to bureaucracy in India.

He particularly mentioned that a three-month central government stint as Assistant Secretaries for IAS officers in the beginning of their career started couple of years back added tremendously in their capacity building.

Singh recalled that in line with the objectives of the Mission Karmayogi, online pre-foundation course was started with 95th foundation course and he also appreciated the new modules in the foundation course on social inclusion which covered aspects such as gender, children, disability, urban labour force, and experiential activities such as breaking the barriers, power walk and visit to nearby worksites and places where people at margins were staying.

He said that with a vision to make the civil servants capable of leading the transformation and work seamlessly across departments and fields, a common foundation course (CFC), named Aarambh, was started as part of the 94th foundation course in 2019, the statement said.

For the 95th foundation course 428 participants from various services started the foundation course from October 12, it said.

Because of COVID pandemic, the thematic exercise this year — ‘Aarambh-2020′ — was organised from 14th October to 31st October, 2020, with experts and global thought leaders sharing their knowledge and experience on the theme chosen for this year, Governance in India @100’, he said.

In his address, LBSNAA Director Sanjeev Chopra said that for conducting the online sessions, the learning management system known as GYAN is used at the academy.

He said that the prime minister’s Vocal for Local campaign was well imbibed in the course and new things like co-learning in history projects and in other streams were encouraged.

Chopra said that this batch has the ability and agility to overcome adversities like the novel coronavirus pandemic and wished them all success in their future endeavours.

Jitendra Singh also distributed the President of India Gold Medal and certificate for the Best Officer Trainee, it said.

He also laid the foundation stone of a government primary school at Charleville in Mussoorie in Uttarakhand.

A short movie made by the officers was also shown on the occasion.

Militant injured during encounter

in Anantnag dies at hospital

Srinagar: A militant, who was arrested by security forces during a shootout in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir, succumbed to injuries at a hospital here on Friday, police said.

Zaheer Abbas Lone had sustained bullet injuries in the abdomen, a police official said.

Lone was arrested in Baba Gund Khaleel area of Anantnag district after a brief exchange of fire during an anti-militancy operation on Thursday, he added.

New farm laws have not

come overnight, says PM

File Photo

Bhopal: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said the new agricultural laws brought by his government have not come overnight, but were long overdue and insisted that the existing regime of support price for farm produce will continue.

Political parties, agriculture experts and progressive farmers demanded such agri reforms for long, he said and attacked the opposition for misleading cultivators on the issue of MSP (minimum support price) and APMCs.

Opposition parties, when in power, sat over the Swaminathan committee report for years, but the BJP-led government implemented its recommendations in the interest of farmers, said the PM as the ongoing protests by cultivators outside Delhi entered the 23rd day.

The new agriculture laws have not come overnight but political parties, agriculture experts and progressive farmers have demanded them for a long time, Modi said in a virtual address to the farmers of Madhya Pradesh.

Coming down heavily on those misleading farmers, Modi said, People should seek replies from those who have talked about these reforms in their manifestos for long but never implemented them.

“If they want to take credit for these farm laws, they should do so, but they should stop misleading farmers on the issue by spreading lies, he said.

Modi said MSP and Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) mechanisms will continue even after the implementation of the new farm laws.

Hundreds of farmers are camping at several Delhi border points to press for the repeal of the Centre’s new farm laws.

PM Modi’s Varanasi office listed

on OLX for ‘sale’; 4 arrested

Varanasi: Four people have been arrested for allegedly posting an online advertisement listing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Varanasi office for “sale”, police said on Friday.

The accused had taken a picture of the “Jansampark Kaaryalay (public relations office)” of Modi, who represents Varanasi in the Lok Sabha, and put it “up for sale” on OLX website, they said.

The office is located in the Jawahar Nagar locality of the city, and it falls under the Bhelupur police station limits, Varanasi Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Amit Pathak said.

“Yesterday, it came to our notice that the prime minister’s office here has been put up on sale on OLX website. An FIR was immediately lodged at the Bhelupur police station, and the matter is being investigated,” Pathak said.

“Four people involved in the case have been taken in custody,” the SSP said, adding that the person who took the picture and put it on the website is among them.

The accused are being questioned, and further legal proceedings are being carried out, he said.

Prime Minister Modi, a four-time chief minister of Gujarat, was first elected to the Lok Sabha from Varanasi in 2014 and then re-elected from the constituency in 2019.

Changing nature of war: Rajnath says mobile

phones now have longer reach than missiles

Chandigarh: Apparently referring to the impact of social media in conflicts between nations, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said the reach of the mobile phone now was bigger than that of a missile.

Addressing the annual Military Literature Festival here, Singh warned that different kinds of security threats may emerge in the future

This event is important from another point of view, he said through video conference. “As times change, the nature of threats and wars is also changing. In the future, other security-related issues may come before us.

He added that conflicts are gradually becoming comprehensive in the manner never imagined earlier.

Possibly alluding to the power of social media and mobile apps, he said, Today the range (marak Kshamta) of a mobile has crossed even the reach of a missile, he said.

He added that the enemy can now reach people even without crossing any borders, and urged everyone to play the role of a soldier.

We should remain alive to these dangers and save ourselves from wrong and misleading information and save others too, and festivals like this can play a key role in this, he said, urging literary figures to make use of their talent to the full for this.

The defence minister did not specifically refer to China.

But in recent months, since the standoff between the two sides began at the Line of Actual Control, India has banned several Chinese mobile apps, citing concerns related to national security and privacy.

These included the popular TikTok and WeChat apps.

Singh said this year’s edition of the festival was special as the country is observing the 50th year of 1971 India-Pakistan War.

He also said there are many veterans around who fought that war and urged the youth to learn from them.

The defence minister said war games played on mobile phones were no match to their real-life experiences.

Singh said he was scheduled to participate in last year’s edition of MLF but could not come to Chandigarh due to a Parliament session.

But he had kept myself regularly updated on the festival events, including book releases and panel discussions, the minister said.

All these events give a close insight to the people, especially the youth, into military life, he said.

He said the festival also gave common people a better understanding of the functioning of the armed forces and instilled patriotic spirit in the youth.

Punjab for decades has been the land of the brave and it is only natural that such festivals started from here. The festival is also a tribute to those warriors who gave up everything for the nation’s sake, he said.

Earlier, Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore and former Jammu and Kashmir governor N N Vohra also spoke.

The annual event is a joint initiative of the Punjab Government and the armed forces. It ends Sunday.

In last 2 years, ACB registers over 200

cases in J&K, all against govt servants         

Jammu: The Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB)has registered 219 cases in Jammu and Kashmir since 2018 and all against government servants.

A report citing RTI reply to application seeking details of the officers from national investigating agencies deputed to the ACB to probe graft cases, the ACB has stated that two officers including SP CBI and Deputy Director ED “ are working in this office.” The reply states that since 2018 as many as 219 corruption cases stand registered— all against government servants.

To a query about the status of investigation in cases filed against J& K Bank officials, the reply states that three FIRs are registered in P/ S ACBK against the officers/ officials of the Bank and the investigation is presently going on. The ACB has registered cases against former J& K Bank chairman, its executives and others.

As per the ACB, 219 cases registered in two years include a Rs 223 crore loan scam in State Cooperative Bank, cases against government officials for embezzlements, bribe, etc.

In Oct, 2018, the Vigilance Organization was rechristened as Anti Corruption Bureau by virtue of SRO 486 of 2018.

At present, the ACB has eight Police Stations— three in Kashmir, four in Jammu division and one Central Police Station with jurisdiction over the whole of J& K. It may be recalled that Union Ministry of Home Affairs vide Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization ( Adaptation of State Laws) Order, 2020 dated March 31, 2020 repealed as a whole the Jammu and Kashmir State Vigilance Commission Act, 2011.            

PM Modi to lunch health

scheme for J&K on Dec 25        

Jammu: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will Lunch Health Scheme for the public of Jammu and Kashmir on December 25, which is to be run through State Health Agency in convergence with the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna.

The registration of the scheme had already been thrown open since September 21 at subscription fees of Rs 30. The scheme offers health cover of Rs five lakhs per family and is open for all residents of Jammu and Kashmir. Subscribers can avail benefits at 218 public and private hospitals empaneled in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir even as the scheme is portable across the country.

As per the reports,  the Prime Minister will make formal launch of scheme on December 25 through a mega online event from New Delhi. The event has been tailored in such a way that thousands of people get involved in it at Jammu, Srinagar, district headquarters and medical blocks.

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, Chief Secretary, Advisors and top officers will connect with the Prime Minister in launch programme from Jammu. Initial beneficiaries of the scheme will be made to join in the online launch event. Members of Parliament, members of the Municipal institutions will also join the event.

The Jammu and Kashmir Health Scheme, it may be mentioned here, is an extension of the Ayushman Bharat, which covers people in below poverty line category as mentioned in the 2011 census. However, its scope has been widened in its Jammu and Kashmir aspect in the following manners: lakhs of families not covered in 2011 SECC survey will get accommodated, the scheme is universal and is irrespective of income bar, there is just a registration fee with no premium.

Some of the salient features of JKHS include: Free of cost health insurance of Rs. 5 lakhs per year per family to all residents of the UT, presently not covered under AB-PMJAY; All the benefits of AB-PMJAY will be extended to these 14 lakh families including currently serving and retired Government employees of the UT; All employees and pensioners are covered without any co-payment; This scheme will be implemented on insurance mode; The existing IT systems of AB-PMJAY will be leveraged for the implementation of the scheme; Existing Health Benefit Package 2.0 of NHA will be used for the implementation of JKHS. HBP 2.0 comprises of more there are almost 1589 procedures including high end diagnostic procedures like Angiography.

Jammu coldest at 2.8,

Drass at minus 28.5

Jammu:  Cold wave continued to sweep J&K and Ladakh on Friday with Jammu recording season’s coldest night at 2.8 degrees Celsius and the Drass town remaining frozen at minus 28.5.

“Light rain/snow is likely in J&K and Ladakh on December 21-22, but the present cold wave condition is expected to continue during the next two to three days.

“No major snowfall is expected in J&K and Ladakh till December 31”, an official of the MET department said.

Absence of snowfall on new year eve is unlikely to disappoint scores of tourists and adventure lovers who have made bookings for the new year eve in Gulmarg and Pahalgam.

There is four ft deep snow on the ground in Gulmarg and the entire meadow is bedecked with a white snow blanket to welcome tourists.

Encouragingly for the local tourist industry, all hotels and huts in Gulmarg are completely sold out to new year enthusiasts where the minimum temperature was minus 10.6 on Friday.

Srinagar recorded minus 6.0 and Pahalgam minus 9.2 as the night’s lowest temperature.

Leh town of Ladakh witnessed minus 18.4, Kargil minus 17.0 and Drass minus 28.5 as the minimum temperatures.

Jammu city had 2.8, Katra 3.6, Batote 0.3, Bannihal minus 0.6 and Bhaderwah minus 3.5 as the minimum temperatures.

Night temperatures have started dropping below the freezing point in Kashmir division and Ladakh ahead of the 40-day long period of harsh winter cold called the “Chillai Kalan” in local parlance which begins on December 21.

The summer flow of all the rivers, streams, springs and lakes in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh depends upon how well have the perennial water reservoirs in the mountains been replenished by a bountiful snowfall during the Chillai Kalan.

SC directs states to carry out fire safety

audit of dedicated COVID-19 hospitals

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday directed all the states to carry out fire safety audit of dedicated COVID-19 hospitals across the country to prevent fire incidents in medical institutions.

The apex court also directed dedicated COVID-19 hospitals to take a no objection certificate (NOC) from the fire department within four weeks and said that failure to do so will invite punitive action.

A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said that those hospitals, whose fire NOC has expired, will have to get it renewed within four weeks.

The top court said that all the states will follow COVID-19 guidelines, including on wearing of face mask and adherence to social distancing measures, and the standard operating procedure issued by the competent authority.

The bench, also comprising justices R S Reddy and M R Shah, said that issue of political rallies and observance of COVID-19 guidelines in such gatherings will be looked into by the Election Commission.

With 22,890 fresh cases, India’s

COVID-19 tally rises to 99.79 lakh

New Delhi: India’s COVID-19 caseload rose to 99.79 lakh with 22,890 new infections being reported in a day, while total recoveries crossed the 95 lakh-mark, according to the Union Health Ministry’s data updated on Friday.

With 338 more fatalities, the death toll reached 1,44,789, while the total COVID-19 cases mounted to 99,79,447, the data updated at 8 am showed.

The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 95,20,827, pushing the national recovery rate to 95.40 per cent. The COVID-19 case fatality rate stands at 1.45 per cent.

The COVID-19 active caseload remained below four lakh for the 12th consecutive day.

There are 3,13,831 active cases in the country which comprise 3.14 per cent of the total caseload, the data stated.

India’s COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20 lakh-mark on August 7, 30 lakh on August 23 and 40 lakh on September 5.

It went past 50 lakh on September 16, 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, crossed 80 lakh on October 29, and surpassed 90 lakh on November 20.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 15,89,18,646 samples have been tested so far with 11,13,406 samples being tested on Thursday.

The 338 new fatalities include 65 from Maharashtra, 44 from West Bengal, 35 from Delhi and 27 from Kerala.

Total 1,44,789 deaths reported so far in the country include 48,499 from Maharashtra followed by 11,981 from Karnataka, 11,942 from Tamil Nadu, 10,182 from Delhi, 9,235 from West Bengal, 8,136 from Uttar Pradesh, 7,069 from Andhra Pradesh and 5,150 from Punjab.

The health ministry stressed that more than 70 per cent of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities. “Our figures are being reconciled with the Indian Council of Medical Research,” the ministry said on its website, adding that state-wise distribution of figures is subject to further verification and reconciliation


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